Neale Donald Walsch famously said that we never know God until we see Him in the face of our enemy. Those are profound words, clearly echoing those of Jesus. For many of us the practice of Christianity has often been an intellectual exercise, involving trying to fathom the words of the Bible and piece together a consistent, coherent theology thereby. I know I find myself often caught up in an endless search for knowledge, a greater understanding of what it’s all about. It an easy trap to fall into. But as the Bible itself states- knowledge puffs up. The intellectual pusuit of the Bible is the start of an endless quest for achieved righteousness and invariably ends up as an ego trip, especially if we ever feel like we finally get it mostly right.
Reverence for God and faith in Jesus must involve a lot more than knowing this or that and practicing right doctrine. I am convinced that we could know the Bible backward and forward and still miss a meaningful association with Jesus, if our response to that knowledge does not involve genuine, demonstrated concern for our fellowmen, most especially those who are not like us. Of course, that demonstrated concern calls for a tremendous self sacrifice. It means I have to relinquish self interest in favor of the larger good. It means I embrace a commitment to future generations, not blithely consuming natural resources without restraint. It can’t be achieved by business as usual, including church business as usual.
We can be great theoreticians, expounding the word with the best of them, but without love we become a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Been tinkling lately? Sadly, I suspect I have.